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How To Partition a Hard Drive in Windows XP

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New Partition Wizard in Windows XP - Partition Hard Drive XP

New Partition Wizard in Windows XP

After installing a hard drive your computer you have to partition it so Windows XP can use the drive.

To partition a hard drive in Windows XP means to divide the hard drive into parts and make those parts available to Windows XP. It's also possible for an entire hard drive to have a single partition, which is actually a very common way to partition a hard drive in Windows XP.

This might seem hard to do but don't worry. Partitioning is necessary before using a hard drive so Microsoft has made it really easy to partition a hard drive in the Windows XP operating system.

Follow these steps to partition a hard drive in Windows XP:

Note: Not using Windows XP? See the tip at the bottom of the page for help.

Difficulty: Easy

Time Required: It usually only takes a few minutes to partition a hard drive in Windows XP

Here's How:

  1. Open Windows XP Disk Management from the Computer Management utility.

    Note: If you'd rather, you can choose to open Disk Management from the Command Prompt in Windows XP.

  2. As Disk Management opens, the Initialize and Convert Disk Wizard will begin.

    Click Next >.

    Note: Don't worry if you don't see this wizard start - just skip to Step 6. We'll know soon if something could be wrong with the physical hard drive installation.

  3. On the Select Disks to Initialize step, make sure that the checkbox next to Disk # is checked. The number after Disk will probably be a one or two but it doesn't matter.

    Click Next >.

  4. On the next step, called Select Disks to Convert, make sure Disk # is unchecked. You do not want to convert this hard drive to a dynamic disk unless you have specific need to do so.

    Click Next >.

  5. Click Finish on the Completing the Initialize and Convert Disk Wizard window.

  6. After the Initialize and Convert Disk Wizard closes, find the hard drive you want to partition in the drive map located on the bottom half of Disk Management.

    If the hard drive is new then it's probably located on a row by itself labeled Disk 1, or another number other than zero, and the space will report as Unallocated.

    If the space you want to partition is part of hard drive that's partially partitioned, the Unallocated space will be next to that space.

    Note: You might have to maximize the Computer Management or Disk Management window to see all the hard drives on the bottom. Unpartitioned drives do not show up in the drive list at the top of the screen.

    Important: Don't see the hard drive you want to partition? If you're sure the hard drive you installed is not there then there may have been an issue with the installation. Turn off your computer and make sure the hard drive is correctly installed.

  7. Once you locate the drive, right-click anywhere in the Unallocated space and choose New Partition....

    The New Partition Wizard will appear.

  8. Click Next >.

  9. Choose Primary partition to the Select the partition you want to create option on the Select Partition Type step.

    Click Next >.

    Note: Choosing Extended partition is useful when creating five or more partitions on a single hard drive.

  10. In the Specify Partition Size step, click Next > to confirm the size of the partition.

    The number listed in the Partition size in MB: field should equal the number listed as the Maximum disk space in megabytes (MB):. This means that you're creating a partition of the same size as the entire hard drive or unpartitioned space.

    Note: If you're planning on creating multiple partitions in this Unallocated space, change the Partition size in MB to the size of the partition you'd like to create and then repeat Steps 7 through 15 to create up to three additional primary partitions.

  11. The next step in the wizard, called Assign Drive Letter or Path, does exactly that, since your new partition will need a drive letter.

    Windows XP automatically chooses the next available drive letter (A and B are skipped) so if that drive letter works for you, just click Next >.

    Important: It's best to plan on keeping with the drive letter you choose here. Changing a drive's letter in the future is very easy but can cause serious issues if programs are installed on the drive.

  12. Next, Windows XP asks if you'd like to format the drive after partitioning it. Since this tutorial is focused at partitioning a hard drive, let's wait to format the drive until we're done creating the partition.

    Choose Do not format this partition and then click Next >.

  13. The Completing the New Partition Wizard page displays a summary of the partition settings you chose in the previous steps.

    Check that the settings in the summary are similar to these:

    • Partition Type: Primary partition
    • Disk selected: Disk 1
    • Partition size: 2045 MB
    • Drive letter or path: E:
    • File system: None
    • Allocation unit size: Default

    Note: The values for Disk selected, Partition size, and Drive letter or path will be different for you because your setup will be different than mine was. File system: None just means that you've decided not to format the drive right now.

  14. Click Finish to begin Windows XP's partition of the hard drive.

    Your cursor will turn busy for a few to several seconds. The partition of the hard drive is complete once your new drive letter (E: in my example) appears in the drive listing at the top of the Disk Management screen.

  15. Now that you've partitioned a hard drive, you must format it so Windows XP can use the drive:

    Continue to How To Format a Hard Drive in Windows XP for instructions on how to do this.

Tips:

  1. Not a Windows XP user? See How Do I Partition a Hard Drive in Windows? for specific instructions for your version of Windows.

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